With more and more jobs opening up in the healthcare field, nursing has become a very popular major.
For many years, the UW - Stevens Point has had a successful pre-nursing program. Through this program, students interested in nursing are able to take the preliminary classes they need to qualify for nursing school.
"We advise specifically to UW-Eau Claire," said Carole Paulson, the Assistant Professor of the School of Health Care Professionals (SHCP) at UWSP.
She added that students graduating from UWSP’s pre-nursing program are qualified to apply to any Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program they choose. Otherwise, students could continue at a technical college and receive an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).
So far UWSP does not have an ADN or BSN program, only the pre-nursing program. But for the past several years Paulson and her associates have been working on an RN-BSN Degree Completion Program that would allow licensed registered nurses holding associate degrees in nursing to return to school and earn their BSN.
A BSN can be very useful in terms of career options, and the extra semesters in school can provide "a broader education in the areas of leadership, ethics, geriatrics, culture, and informatics," Paulson said.
In 2011 the Institute of Medicine released a report called "The Future of Nursing." The report discussed how changes in the health care system have created new challenges and responsibilities for nurses in the 21st century. Advances in technology and the medicine have allowed people to live longer lives. This means more people will need care as they age.
According to the report, the number of Americans 65 and older will make up about 20 percent of the pop
ulation by the year 2030.
"Now instead of having a sixty-year-old with one problem, you have a ninety-year-old with five problems," said Sarah Ploeg, an RN at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.
To address these challenges, the Institute of Medicine committee (IOM) has set a goal to increase the number of nurses with a BSN to 80 percent of all RNs by 2020.
In the words of the IOM committee, "A more educated nursing workforce would be better equipped to meet the demands of an evolving health care system, and this need could be met by increasing the percentage of nurses with a BSN."
Plans to expand the nursing program here at UWSP began long before this report came out. However, the RN-BSN Degree Completion Program would not be a full-fledged nursing program.
"We are taking RNs that are already out there and raising them to the level of BSN," said Paulson.
If all goes according to plan, the program will open in the Fall of 2013.